News | November 11, 2007

BC Cancer Agency Pioneers Faster, Precise Radiotherapy Treatment

November 12, 2007 - Clinicians at BC Cancer Agency have treated a 72-year-old prostate cancer patient in less than two minutes, using the novel technique called volumetric arc therapy (VMAT).
The VMAT treatment is an advanced form of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which has the potential to measurably improve treatment precision by sparing more healthy tissue in addition to making treatments much faster and more comfortable for patients, according to the Varian Medical Systems.

It was made possible by software innovations developed by BC Cancer Agency clinicians together with an advanced medical linear accelerator and beam-shaping accessory from Varian.
Karl Otto, PhD, a medical physicist at the BC Cancer Agency, developed the software algorithm that made it possible for his clinic to deliver the VMAT treatment. "The algorithm is designed to generate highly conformal dose distributions while taking advantage of the specific capabilities of the Varian linear accelerator," he said.

Building on Otto's work, Varian engineers have developed Varian's new RapidArc radiotherapy technology, which was exhibited for the first time at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) in Los Angeles last week. Varian's RapidArc product for VMAT can deliver intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatments two to eight times faster than was previously possible. It is currently pending FDA clearance and not yet available for sale in the United States.

Unlike more conventional treatment techniques where machines must rotate several times around the patient or make repeated intermittent stops and starts to treat individual fields from a number of different beam angles, VMAT technology reportedly makes it possible to deliver the dose to the entire tumor volume in a single rotation around the patient.

For more information: www.varian.com

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